Wood is the most environmentally friendly construction material due to its renewability, long life, biodegradability, and energy efficiency. A wooden building also stores atmospheric carbon dioxide, acting as a long-term carbon sink.
A sustainable construction material
While most commonly used construction materials are non-renewable, wood is a renewable natural resource. And with forest growth in Finland and Europe currently outstripping demand for wood, there is much more wood available for construction than is currently being used.
It’s been calculated that it would take Finnish forests just 10 hours to grow all the wood needed to make every new building in Finland from wood.
Finnish and European forests are managed sustainably, with more wood growing than is cut down. Currently, 40% of all construction in Finland is wood construction compared to around 4% across Europe as a whole; globally, wood is not a particularly common construction material.
A growing forest is an important carbon sink
Increasing wood construction would be a viable option for moving towards more sustainable construction. Stopping the depletion of the world’s forested areas and caring for forests are the goals of sustainable forestry.
Not only is wood a sustainable material, but forests also mitigate climate change as they grow by acting as important carbon sinks for our planet:
- In 2016 Finland’s carbon sink was 27.3 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq), corresponding to 46% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- According to the latest estimate (2018), the reference level for 2012–2025 of the carbon sink of Finnish forests, with wood products included, is -34.77 million tons of CO2eq.
This means forests and wood products play a significant role in preventing climate change.
Wood’s ability to store carbon dioxide is not limited to the forest growth stage, as wood products and buildings also act as long-term carbon sinks. A typical detached wooden house stores up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to 10 years’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions by the average Finnish driver.
Durable wooden buildings are most sustainable
By its very nature, wood is an energy-efficient construction material as it both insulates and breathes. The more energy efficient a house, the more environmentally friendly it is to live in.
A durable wooden building is the most sustainable option as it maximizes the lifespan of the raw materials collected from nature. It also stores carbon dioxide for longer while remaining in good condition for future generations.
And when a wooden building’s time is up, wood disposal causes minimal environmental issues, unlike disposing of non-biodegradable materials. This makes wood a sustainable choice throughout its life cycle.
With the right care, a wooden building will stand the test of time
Wood treatment and maintenance have a direct impact on the lifespan of a wooden building. This is why fire retardants and paint products play a key role in the design and construction of wooden buildings.
By selecting the right products you can ensure that your wooden building will last for generations.
Read more about Tikkurila’s ProHouse method, which provides the longest maintenance painting interval on the market, and about our innovative range of fire-retardant products.